Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ebay Gives Scammers the Green Light

Here's what I wrote to Ebay when they announced their recent policy change favoring buyers over sellers:

From what I'm reading, although our fees are going to be reduced, we will be further restricted to how we are allowed to judge our customers, is that correct?

Over the course of years of business on Ebay (both buying and selling) I have only experienced 1 or 2 deceptive sellers. However, I have encountered numerous buyers who feel that this is a great way to take advantage of someone who desperately needs their money and good will.

I have found that there are many more buyers who see the seller as an easy mark.

Now the majority of buyers are decent people - don't get me wrong. But in the course of selling, I have had a man substitute worn out, damaged glasses for the new ones I'd sent him and I was forced to take both the other glasses AND refund him his money. He got an exchange for free - at my expense.

I've also had a man from Australia who ordered and received a watch AND got his money back when he claimed he hadn't received it - even when I had proof of sending it!

I've also had a man who decided his watch needed a new battery, and therefore he demanded half-off an already amazingly good price on a brand new watch!

There are many other examples of buyer fraud that I can give you - this is just the tip of the iceberg. And yet if we are only allowed to give POSITIVE feedback in the future, the buyers will NEVER be accountable for such actions!!! How are you going to protect us? Reduced fees will not be enough!

Ebay's representative, "Matt", wrote back:

Thank you for writing eBay in regard to the site changes.

the fees changes will take place on February 20th, the feedback changes won't take effect until May.

In regards to feedback, i have enclosed quite a lot of information, so i apologize the email is lengthy, but I have included some scenarios with buyers and how you can protect yourself.

The current feedback system will be changed to a new system in May. The reasoning behind these changes are:

1. Current system is not adequately achieving a primary intent because its transparency makes some members reluctant to hold others accountable. Buyers fear Retaliatory feedback!
2. Buyers who receive negative feedback are more likely to leave the site more then any other reason. (Including Item not received or item not described disputes). We want to Retain Buyers to the site.
3. We will continue to evolve eBay's public and Private feedback system as Community makeup and marketplace dynamics evolve.
4. 50% of Sellers have a 10% feedback, 80% of Sellers have a 99.3% and above. The old feedback system is not adequate to differentiate Sellers. Our primary objective with feedback is for Buyers to be able to accurately assess Sellers.

Plus, nothing good comes from unfairly criticizing a buyer publicly. And frankly, I can?t think of another successful ecommerce business or retailer where the customer isn?t always right (at least publicly).

If a buyer threatens negative Feedback to demand more than what was promised in the item description (for example, the person wants overnight delivery but only paid for standard delivery), the seller should immediately report the buyer to eBay. If there is clear evidence
of extortion, eBay will take action. Buyers who show a pattern of such behavior will be suspended. If a buyer is suspended, any negative or neutral Feedback they left for others will be automatically removed.

Sellers should only file these complaints when a buyer asks for more than what is promised in the listing. Filing a false claim is a violation of eBay policy and may result in seller suspension.

If your buyer has failed to pay for an item, you should file an Unpaid Item (UPI) claim. If the buyer fails to respond to the UPI report, then any negative or neutral Feedback they have left for the particular transaction will be removed. If the buyer shows a pattern of such behavior and is suspended for UPI, all negative or neutral Feedback they left will be removed.

Sellers should only file a UPI claim when a buyer did not pay. Filing false UPI claims is a violation of eBay policy and may result in seller suspension.

If you believe you have received negative Feedback because a buyer has purchased an incorrect item and you do not have a return policy, we recommend the following:

- Let the buyer know about your selling policies.
- Review your listings to make sure your items are well described and your terms are clear and concise. Important information mentioned in excessively long descriptions can sometimes be overlooked.
- Remember that you'll never be able to please everyone 100% of the time.
- Some selling policies such as no refunds, limits on how a buyer may pay, descriptions that hide details in the fine print, and so on may increase your likelihood of receiving negative or neutral Feedback from a buyer.

We believe that we will reduce any imbalance in the Feedback system with these changes. Buyers will be able to more accurately assess sellers, and sellers will be protected from buyers who violate our policies (through the Unpaid Item system and other reporting) without risking a
reduction in good buyer activity.

The change in the Feedback system is designed to improve the eBay marketplace which should benefit both buyers and sellers. Improving the Feedback system should increase buyers' confidence making them trust sellers more.

It is my pleasure to assist you. Thank you for choosing eBay.

Matt I.

eBay Customer Support

So I responded:

Matt (please share this with your supervisor),

WHEN are you guys going to understand that you need the SELLERS too? It is the SELLERS who pay the fees, even if an item doesn't sell, and you're on the side of everybody BUT us. You glossed over the problems I mentioned by breezily saying that Ebay punishes bad buyers IF a pattern is established. Well what if I'm the beginning of that pattern? I just take the hit for the greater good? Or what if they are only crooked SOMEtimes and I get that one time?

And who decides what is considered a 'pattern'? The person sitting behind a desk at Ebay whose pocketbook isn't affected in the least?! How nice to sit there in comfortable glory, dishing out judgements that do not impact you whatsoever.

When a buyer has negative feedback, a seller can make an informed judgement as to whether or not they should do certain things! For instance, I recently had a woman who hadn't paid for 2 weeks after the auction ended. After countless emails to her, and a reminder from Ebay, I closed the sales and she got two strikes. THEN she wrote, telling me she still wanted the goods and would pay if I'd remove the strike.

Luckily I'd already spoken w/ another seller who'd left this buyer bad feedback, and I discovered that this is a common pattern, and that the buyer DID pay the other seller AFTER receiving a strike, received the merchandise, and then lied to PayPal and said she had never received it. Happily the other seller had the delivery confirmation, but do *I* need to go through such a hassle? Heck no! I refused to change the ruling and resold the items to others!

You say you want to retain buyers. At what cost? At throwing the sellers to the wolves? What about the buyers that ARE scam artists? You just threw them the biggest bone in the world! And at whose expense? Ours, of course, because YOU get your money no matter what. You get your money even when there's an incident or problem. And when a problem DOES come up, most of the time you're on the buyer's side because it's EASIER for you guys.

What - do you not think sellers aren't catching on to this? Again, when you don't have SELLERS, you don't have buyers either. Apparently you are choosing sides - how is this right?!

As for the customer being always right - I was a retail manager for Macy's. We tried to believe that trite old chestnut in the early 90s and found, to our detriment and extreme losses, that it wasn't so. That's when we revised corporate policy. We had numerous accounts of customer fraud which affected our bottom line so severely that we had to rework much of our policies. The customer ISN'T always right. Especially when it's in an anonymous forum like Ebay.

You say you'd need 'clear evidence of extortion' in cases of buyer fraud. That would mean you would need to SEE the items sold, SEE the emails exchanged, and neither will usually happen. Also, trying to get someone from Ebay to listen or return emails is a frustrating and slow process at best.

Watch and see - the downfall of your business will be when the sellers finally have enough and you'll get to retain your buyers, but there will be nothing to buy.

What are you guys going to do when the sellers finally find an alternative to Ebay where they're treated with equality and respect?

There will ALWAYS be buyers, there won't always be sellers.

I know for a FACT that there are many sellers who are actively looking for another route to sell online. There are numerous disgruntled comments throughout the web.

Your rating method was the only way to protect ourselves, nominally, from the crooked buyer. Why allow for positive feedback at all then? Why bother with feedback at all when there is no alternative but positive?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Rosetta Stone

I recently was given an older copy of the Rosetta Stone (the last version before this current one). I decided it was time to refresh my highschool Spanish, which was never put to effective use. After all, living in Florida: Land of Immigrants Both Legal and Illegal, Spanish is a handy thing to know.

But I wonder how much it will help me grow to a bilingual status? Glowing reviews tout it as an incredible tool used by military and corporations alike, which supposedly fully emerses the user in the language.

My son had been rather disdainful about it. "Yeah, I used it for a while," he said, "but it's just a lot of pictures and it's pretty simplistic."

Still, I was determined to give it a try. And, in the day that I've used it, I've deducted that mujer (pronounced moo-hair) means woman and coche (pronounced coach-ay) means car. I can even say "El coche es blanco". But I'm hoping that simple words which mean run, jump, woman, man, boy, girl, car, and (oddly) elephant, will be useful in everyday conversation.

I worry that this may give me a toddler's vocabulary but will hardly make me proficient enough to be regarded as communicative. Do I really want to devote myself to this just so I can sound fresh out of kindergarten?

Has anyone else had any experience with this program?

Monday, January 21, 2008


Last year I wrote about Martin Luther King in Heroes With Blemishes. But this year I'd like to tackle something else:

Why is it that schools and the post office are closed on Martin Luther King Day when they aren't on Washington and Lincoln's birthdays (as they once were)? Instead, we have combined their birthdays into one, calling it "Presidents Day". It's as if we've decided that these amazing men don't each deserve a holiday of their own.

If two great Presidents can be so disregarded, why are we making such a fuss over a man who was not even the leader of our nation? I'll grant you that he was 'a' leader, but hardly a leader as powerful as a U.S. President.

Before anyone cries 'racist' (as inevitably happens when a white person discusses a black issue) let me assure you that one of my very best friends is black. So please... table the label.

For the sake of argument, it could be said that although MLK was not as powerful as a President, he was certainly a major leader for black people in this country, and I would agree with that. But what about alternative icons such as Booker T. Washington who has no recorded instance of cheating on his wives (he was widowed twice) and also never plagiarized a single paragraph (unlike MLK)?

Is Booker T. Washington so far removed from our lowered standards that he seems like an almost fictional character?

What of George Washington Carver, who made contributions to not simply a small segment of society but to society as a whole, while serving as an upstanding role model? Is he also to be disregarded because he is simply 'old school' and our modern work ethic (or lack of it) cannot come close to his standards?

Sometimes it is easier to idolize people who are obviously flawed, in the subconscious belief that we are somewhat better in comparison. And when someone is only marginally better than we are, the goal seems more achievable. Yet shouldn't we hold up men and women who represent what we should be and not what we are? Shouldn't our heroes be men and women who have achieved accomplishments and lived honorably? I ask this of all the races.

Yet for many of us, our role models are Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, Tom Cruise, and the latest contestants in American Idol. Again, we like our heroes to be flawed so that we can feel that they are, in some way, equal to or even less than we are.

Top athletes don't do this. You never hear of the athlete who is successful because his role model was the person who received the bronze medal in the Olympics. No! We all aspire to win the gold!

So why do we focus on the bronze medal winners in the human race?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

If I were a true matchmaker, I'd have no clients. Word would get about quickly, and the only people who would come to me would be the people who wanted to know whom they should avoid at all costs.

Wednesday evening I made an introduction of an out-of-town wealthy, artistic jeweler to a creative, intelligent, and pretty friend of mine. Now that sounds like a winning combination on paper, doesn't it?! If I had a checklist, I would have written down all of his obvious traits and matched it to hers, and I would have found at least an 80% match!

However, this was truly the worst match I've ever made.

Since my friend looks like Lisa Kudrow, we'll call her "Lisa" here. He didn't actually look like anyone I've ever seen before. She likes older men, so he fit the bill. Although she's 44, he's in his 50s. He has cherubic cheeks, curly gray hair, a Tom Selleck mustache and smile, and a ready wit. However, his personality turned out to be so far from Tom Selleck that we'll call him Caligula instead.

We arranged to meet for a couple of drinks so that no one had to make any commitments and could escape at any time. Lisa hadn't been feeling well that day. "I can't come," she said frantically over the phone. "I've been under so much stress lately that my entire mouth has broken out into cold sores! I feel like crap!"

"Oh c'mon," I cajoled her. "It's only for a couple of drinks! You can leave right afterwards! And who knows - maybe a couple of drinks will cauterize everything! Remember, he's only in town for a couple of days and this could be The One!"

She fell for it: I could sell fire to Satan.

I then called Caligula. I cautioned him that she wasn't well. "Oh, what is it, a cold or something?" Caligula asked. Yup, it was something, I said. I added that she wouldn't be able to stay for long, but we could always meet up for dinner on Friday night if all worked out. He thought it was a great idea.

So that night my friend Rick and I arrived at the club to find he was already waiting for us, drink in hand. We had no way of knowing how much he'd already drunk, but he carried it well and we didn't suspect that he'd had more than one. He happily ordered a couple of drinks for us and we found a table to sit at while we visited and waited for Lisa to arrive.

Now let me add something here: I hate being drunk and I hate drunks, so my limit is always two drinks. A drunk person turns me off so much that I've been known to break dates when I see a guy get drunk, and then never call him back. My tolerance is exceedingly low. My idea of a good time is getting out, dancing, and not waking up with flu symptoms the next morning. I can't see why anyone would want otherwise.

We sat there and sipped on our drinks, leaning over to yell loudly in each other's ears in order to overcome the violently loud 70s and 80s dance music mix.

Lisa soon arrived, dressed casually and sauntering in with an unconsciously athletic gait. She looked pretty and was very friendly and chatty as she sat down. However, the loud music conspired against us and it was very difficult to interract.

Soon after she sat down, a man walked up to her, did a double-take, and gasped "Lisa?!"

"Ted?!" she said, startled. She turned to us and muttered something about how she knew someone she knew would spot her, and she excused herself to be polite and visit with Ted and his wife for a few moments before she returned to our table.

During that time, Caligula leaned over to us and announced that she met with his approval and he could certainly 'do her.' Questioning my hearing due to the loud music, I let it pass. Surely he didn't say anything that crude about my friend!

Lisa soon rejoined us, and we resumed chatting. Sometimes Caligula would get up and disappear for a couple of minutes and then rejoin us. Other than that, Lisa remained the focus of his attention.

As a little time went by, she grew glummer as her mouth grew more painful. Finally when nothing could be said to elicit a smile, I leaned over and said "Why don't you go on home, hon? Get some rest and we'll get together on Friday." Lisa nodded thankfully and Caligula jumped up with the offer that he'd walk her out to her car.

When Caligula got back, I said it was a shame that Lisa couldn't stay but we'd see her on Friday and we were looking forward to it. He nodded and said "Whatever! If it works, fine, if it doesn't, fine." Well that seemed open-minded and fair enough! Of course he said that as he was gaping at a tiny hispanic woman walking by.

"Careful! Don't snap your neck, Caligula!" joked Rick. Caligula grinned and then promptly went after her. He moved as quickly as a horse out of the starting gate.

Rick and I exchanged glances. "You know he has a drinking problem, right?" said Rick.

"WHAT?" I gasped, "No?! Why do you say that?"

"Have you noticed how he's periodically gotten up and disappeared?" asked Rick. I nodded yes. "Well, he's been going up to the bar and ordering an extra drink every chance he gets," said Rick.

"No, no - really?!" I said in shock (my back had been to the bar the entire time). Rick just nodded.

Soon Caligula was back, for a brief moment, before he spotted another good looking woman and went high-tailing it after her.

"Well, you've gotta admit he's got stamina," said Rick.

For Caligula, the third time was the charm. He found a blond lady who was very receptive to him, and he came staggering back to tell us that he was going home with her. I had enough at this point and said with false cheeriness "Well then, Caligula, have fun, be safe, talk to you later! We were just about to go. Ready, Rick?"

It was at this point that Caligula leaned in to me, and in a stage whisper he announced that he was great in bed and was fabulous at oral sex, and he wanted to show me just how fabulous he was. Well... that's a sanitized version of what he said.

"OK, then, gotta go!" I chirped, dragging Rick out of his chair. "See ya, Caligula!" I said, waving as we backed out the door.

As I turned to look at Rick, I saw that he had had one drink too many. He wasn't nearly as drunk as Caligula, but he wasn't sober, either. "Did I just hear him say...?" began Rick.

"Don't worry about it," I said hastily. "The guy is drunk and doesn't know what he's saying."

I stuffed Rick into the car and drove away. However, for the next couple of miles, Rick was angry and agitated. Finally he insisted on getting out of the car and walking back to the bar. I honestly told him he was a complete idiot and my honor hardly needed defending (I can defend it just fine, thank you) but off he went, and I went home.

At home I went through my usual routines. I let out the dogs, we curled up with a good book, and I read for a couple of hours. I wasn't worried - Rick can take care of himself, and he's really not the type to get into a brawl.

At 12:30 I got a call from the local Holiday Inn. It was Rick.

"Rick? What are you doing at the Holiday Inn?!" I asked.

"Can you pay for a cab?" Rick asked wearily. He'd left his wallet behind at his place. "No," I said, "I'll come get you instead. What the heck's happened?"

"Well, I went back to the club, saw that Caligula really was drunk, and he was about to leave." Apparently Caligula's one-night stand fizzled out and by then Rick had sobered up and got worried about the guy. So Rick continued "I told him I needed a ride home and I'd drive his car to his hotel if he'd just arrange to get me a cab. When we got to his hotel, he staggered in and headed for the elevator. I told him "Hey, Caligula, I still need you to pay for my cab ride home!" Caligula said "F-you, I've got no money," got on the elevator, and disappeared!" said Rick.

In my opinion, Rick got what he deserved and I told him so. However, I said I was on my way. I had nothing better to do, and the Victorian ghost stories I was reading were keeping me awake.

When I arrived at the hotel, the situation had worsened. Caligula had come back down on the elevator, saw Rick, and said in great, drunken surprise "What are you doing here?!"

"I'm still waiting for my cab, remember?" said Rick, irritatedly. "You were supposed to pay for it!"

At this point, Caligula erupted into great profanity and grew very aggressive, coming after Rick with his chest bowed out and fists clenched. Rick hollered to the desk clerk that he was a witness to the fact that Caligula was being the aggressor and if Rick had to flatten him right there, he wanted to make sure that everyone knew he hadn't thrown the first punch.

The hotel clerk cowered behind the desk, only shrieking out that if Caligula didn't leave immediately and return to his room, he was going to call the police. The clerk retold the story to me later, shuddering a little as he did so.

Caligula stumbled back to the elevator like a punch-drunk bear and disappeared just before I arrived.

The next day Caligula called me and left me a message. "I don't know what was wrong with Rick last night!" he whined. "He became so aggressive! I really think he needs anger management classes. Call me!"

Yeah, I'll call him. I'll call him when hell freezes over and I get Satan to buy fire from me. Yessir! We got fire! We got all kinds o' fire! We have red fire, orange fire, candle fire and wood fire. We even got a special on that fabulous blue fire - you know, the kind that accompanies all the undead...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Things Are Looking Up

Well, at the risk of jinxing things, I must say that things are looking up. I saw an ad online for a part-time sales rep, which would suit me perfectly. I contacted the owner and was called back within minutes. He wants to meet with me on Friday, so we'll see if we like each other. However, it's encouraging to know that the only job I bit at was the job that bit back.

Also, client sign-ups seem to be on the increase. However, this could be the last hurrah for the season, so I'm not counting my chickens until they're hatched (as my grandmother would've said). I also think I have my nemesis on the run, as a recent development has occurred which may show just how conniving he's been with my accounts.

While I was on a shopping trip for my Ebay business this weekend, I chanced across a brilliant jewelry artist who makes fantastic handmade, hand-hammered thick silver beads which are tubes of various sizes, embellished with 14K gold. He has a wonderful and engaging personality, and I immediately realized he could be a perfect match for a single friend that I have. I mentioned her, got them both on the phone, and he's coming in to town today to meet her. To make it less high-pressure, we'll do a group date and see how the evening progresses. I adore matchmaking, even though I am notoriously bad at it. Let's hope I'm lucky this time. If it's a disaster, you'll know about it on Friday.

Last night, auditions were announced for the game show "Jeopardy". I never watch TV, so I know vaguely that Jeopardy is all about trivia questions. My boyfriend begged me to go and so I dressed up like a dowager duchess and was dragged to the Hard Rock Cafe in Tampa, where traffic was at a total standstill. By the time we got in, the last people had been admitted for auditions that night. We gave up and went home. So much for an interesting story! Ah well - you win some, you lose some, and I'm sure that this is one loss on the way to a big win, so I'm not complaining.

Maybe next time I'll get a chance to be on Wheel of Fortune. Or... is that still on TV?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Saur & The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Quarter

There's a kid's book called "Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." Mine has stretched into 3 months. Now that doesn't mean that the sky is falling. I'm not ruined or destitute. I'm not ready to sell everything and live like a hermit in a cave.


But the economy is affecting my particular industry, and it's affecting it quite horribly. And losing my so-called 'friend' was very saddening. The friend I'm speaking of is the one that I mentioned here. To make it even worse, I will share something with you that I hadn't shared before: It's my old friend and assistant, Zen Buddhist. The fact that my friendship and help meant so little to her has been very, very disheartening.

My sales aren't horrible, but I went through a very dry period.

In addition to struggling sales, there has been a guy (in the company that I do business with) who is determined to undermine me as much as he possibly can. And that's a lot.

This guy has repeatedly done what he could to covertly take business away from me, and has openly told people who work for him that this is to be standard procedure.

Why doesn't he like me? Without getting into it too much, I'll simply say that I was very popular, highly efficient, and had placed over $50 million in sales with the company. He apparently views this as threatening and rather uppity for a woman. I can't help my gender or my efficiency.

I also can't help being well-liked. In fact, so many people (in that company) like me that he once joked that I was becoming a placement service for all his disenfranchised employees. It's true: I find good people good jobs once they leave.

But I can't find the right job for me. Yet.

Also I'm tired of being used and so many people have come to the well that it's almost dry now.

Should I have known better? Perhaps. But there are always the bright and shining moments, the loyal friends who remember, and golden times spent with people who are truly of value.

My current difficulty is finding time to get everything done. Right now I'm working double time to keep my head above water, and I'm getting so tired of treading. I'm beginning to think it's time to look into a part time job, which will supplement my income and get me out of the house again.

But what?

I thought of bartending (even though I rarely drink and am allergic to cigarette smoke) or doing something menial in retail. Frankly, I have degrees that I don't find to be of value. Companies see the degrees and experience and immediately think I'm overqualified.

Perhaps I am.

But if I'm overqualified, then what is my other option? What does someone with a vast portfolio do for work at the age of 41?

I don't know anymore.

But I know my life is crazy wonderful.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Slamming the Ebay Scammer

I thought I'd share an amusing piece of Ebay drama that I went through a couple of days ago with a deadbeat buyer we'll call Pinkie.

Pinkie had purchased two high-end items and then didn't pay. I sent her repeated invoices for 7 days and reported her to Eaby as a dead-beat bidder on the 8th day. 7 more days went by, with me invoicing her daily. On the 16th day, I reported her again, the sale was voided, and she was given two 'strikes' (which means it goes on her record and an accumulation of strikes can stop her from participation in Ebay).

That night, when Pinkie found out that she couldn't continue to ignore me forever, she thought she'd be clever and shoot me a PayPal payment for the items. She then wrote to me and told me that she had paid for them and still wanted them. I wrote back and politely told her that once a customer has chosen to not pay for an item and I've had to go to the trouble of waiting for two weeks and reporting her, constant invoicing, etc., I'd prefer to not do business with her.

What Pinkie didn't know is that I contacted another seller who had left her negative feedback for being a dead-beat buyer. Pinkie had pulled the same trick on her, and when the seller left truthful feedback, Pinkie left retributive feedback claiming that the seller simply hadn't seen her payment. So, I knew Pinkie was a liar and manipulative as well.

And so the fun began.

Pinkie wrote back to me:

If you have no intention of having the Unpaid Item Strike removed and of completing the transaction (which would be the PROFESSIONAL way of handling this matter, since you have several of these watches) then please refund my Paypal payment immediately. Otherwise I will have no choice but to file fraud reports with Paypal, Ebay, and law enforcement (by the way - my father is a sitting Judge and my brother is an attorney and senior partner in a law firm.) Your choice.

I replied:

Ah, that's what I like: A buyer with complete unprofessionalism, lack of conscience, lack of social graces, and the belief that everyone needs to kowtow to them. Please give your scary relatives a friendly hello from us, and wish them a Happy New Year. Unlike you, on New Year's Eve we have places to go and don't have time to babysit our business 24/7. I have a feeling His Honor might understand that. Oh, and congratulations to your most-impressive brother. Perhaps you might want to follow in his footsteps and make something of yourself as well. Don't think we'll make the same mistake that [other seller] made: We play only as nice as YOU do.

Pinkie then wrote:

No, I'm just a lowly department head in city administration with 2 university degrees, not an Ebay peddler. A formal complaint will be filed by fax on Wednesday morning, 2 January, to: Pinellas County Department of Consumer Protection 14250 49th ST. N. 2nd Floor, Clearwater, FL 33762. From there it will be processed for criminal prosecution for internet fraud, since you have obviously stolen funds with no intention of delivering the items. Full reports will be submitted to both Ebay and Paypal so that they will be aware of the criminal actions being taken against you. You have obvously made your choice, Ms PROFESSIONAL. Enjoy.

I replied:

Do threats and bullying normally work for you? I suppose there are many sheeples who fall for it. With so many relatives in law, I'd think you'd realise how well that looks with law-enforcement and what Ebay's rules are concerning bullying. Of course you've put it all in writing (thank you). As I said previously, when we get the chance, we will delve into the matter and if you paid us (in an obvious attempt to manipulate the situation) then we'll refund you the money. After we were forced to report you as a deadbeat bidder, the deal is no longer valid - as you know: We see this is a habit with you. Dropping names and addresses doesn't impress me in the least - I could certainly do the same, but I have more class than you (apparently). Perhaps you might consider Charm School or, at the very least, anger management. Surely you could excel at both, right? After all, you already have 2 degrees, so you're a quick learner.

Pinkie chewed this one over for about 15 minutes. Then she decided to let loose. At this point, her manic obsessive-compulsive side started to take over and she sent me THREE emails (one of them being a copy of her PayPal payment which I won't bother to share with you here):

Pinkie's First Response:

You're the one who's stated in writing that you have no intention of delivering items, although you've been paid. Check your email and you'll see. Also check your paypal account rather than harassing me. Best wishes to you - why didn't you simply have the Unpaid Item Strikes removed and complete the transaction, as I cordially requested that you do, rather than becoming so vicious and lying about receiving a Paypal payment? Does it give you a thrill?

Pinkie's Second Note:

No threats or bullying, [my real name here]. Simply a statement of what WILL happen.

Ahhh... So here she is using my REAL name in an attempt to show me that I'm vulnerable and she knows who I am and where I live. This type of neurotic individual is rather easy to read. So, I shot her my reply:

[Pinkie's Real Name], I am growing increasingly concerned about your mental health and well-being due to your peculiar allegations and obsessiveness. I strongly suggest you see a doctor and get a complete psychiatric work-up. Simply because you're educated doesn't mean that you can't be afflicted with mental illness and perhaps you should consider this to be a possibility. Either that, or you are poor at the game of lying and manipulations. Lying and accusing me of things that didn't happen won't make a difference to Ebay, PayPal, or any judge or jury in the land when they can see the email trail.

TO SUM IT UP: Our policy is clear - pay within three days of winning the item(s). 8 days after the auction closed, after repeated attempts to get you to pay or respond to the invoices (all documented), we reported you to Ebay. 8 days after THAT, again with repeated attempts to contact you, we finally were forced to ask Ebay to close both sales and issue us a credit. In order to issue us a credit, Ebay also gives a 'strike' to the buyer.

Tonight, when you finally discovered that ignoring your obligations wasn't working, you made the decision to pay us in the hopes that we would buy your excuses (which you've made to other sellers before).

We don't buy the excuses and we don't want business from buyers as unethical as YOU are. We didn't want your money after the sale was closed and we don't want it now. We didn't ask for it, this was YOUR decision, and we will kindly refund you anything you rashly decided to pay... WHEN we get the chance. We are busy with other things. Your repeated emails are actually delaying our chance to do anything ELSE, which will, in turn, delay your refund as well.

Pinkie didn't reply after that one. I thought she'd taken the hint. My plan was to fully refund her the following morning. However, in the belief that it's best to always know your enemies, I decided to do some research on her that night. I knew the little city in Arkansas which she lives in, and since she was kind enough to tell me about her family's pedigree, I knew to look for individuals with her same last name. I figured that with a neurotic personality like that, she couldn't be married, and it turned out that I was right!

By now I had brought the other seller into the fold and reported my findings to her:

Pinkie apparently works and lives in the little town of XXXXXX, Arkansas, population 52,000 (give or take). She suffers from, I venture to guess, big-fish-in-little-pond syndrome. She was the "Assistant to the Mayor of Community Development" there, but was (apparently) recently promoted to be Director of Community Development and works with HUD (low-income housing). She also has the dubious distinction of participation in [Amazingly Ridiculous Sounding Celebration of Some Kind]. YES! I am not kidding. Here is the link:

[a link to the Amazingly Ridiculous Sounding Celebration of Some Kind]

Since there are only 32 people who work in XXXXXX City Hall, I'm thinking she isn't half as important as she thinks she is. However, the [college name] is stationed there. They have 10,000 students there. Here at USF we have a student pop of 54,000. And, of course, we have many other colleges here as well. I'm beginning to get a picture of the size of this town.

Perhaps we can assume that XXXXXX is a suburb and give Pinkie the credit of being Queen of the Burbs. :D

Pinkie's father is (my best guess) Judge XXX XXXXX. Of course XXXXX might be her married name, but with her attitude, I somehow doubt it. So .... if Judge XXX is her dad, get a load of THIS article:

[a link to a story about his upholding the law that allows toddlers of the opposite sex to get married in Arkansas]

That would make her brother XXXX XXXXX:

[a link to the law firm her brother works for with a picture of his cherubic, smiling face]

Now, the other seller had been bullied into going along with Pinkie the last time. She had allowed Pinkie to complete the sale, and had sent her a solid gold gemstone ring. At this point, the seller discovered that Pinkie had just opened a PayPal complaint against her for non-receipt of goods. However, this seller had sent the ring with a delivery confirmation slip and when she looked it up on the USPS site, she found that Pinkie HAD received the ring.

This was getting better and better.

The next morning, I logged into PayPal to arrange the refund to Pinkie. I was almost disappointed, because she hadn't sent me any more spittle-flecked rabid commentary. But lo and behold, I discovered that she had reported me to PayPal! Here's what she wrote in her opening complaint:

Seller was paid, and after receiving payment has blatantly refused to deliver the items or refund payment. This matter will be referred to the Pinellas County Office of Consumer Affairs for criminal fraud prosecution should a full refund not be received immediately.

Now this was really to good to be true, because I knew something that Pinkie didn't know. I knew that I have the last word if I refund her the money, because at that point the case is closed and there are no new notes added to the file. So I wrote:

[Pinkie's Real Name], as you know, I have a series of your emails and everything is documented via Ebay. Lying to PayPal (an extension of Ebay) will get you nowhere and could result in a suspension of your account. You purchased two items and never paid for them despite repeated invoices from us. After 8 days, we reported you to Ebay. We continued to send daily invoices. After 8 more days, we closed the transaction, and you received two strikes against you via Ebay.

That night you realized you couldn't shirk your obligations without consequences, and you discovered the two strikes. In an attempt to manipulate the situation, you made the payment THEN, after the sale was null and void.

We told you we'd refund you when we had the opportunity. We also told you that this was unacceptable behavior on your part. You tried this same ploy on [other seller who is currently laughing hysterically over the whole scenario] and on at least one other seller (according to your feedback). How long do you think such unprofessional and scummy behavior will be tolerated?

I'll bet Judge XXX and brother XXXXX would be disappointed. Surely the board of commissioners for the tiny City of XXXXXX would be shocked, and if you behave this way all the time you undoubtedly won't be asked to continue to volunteer for the prestigious, what is it called? Is this possibly correct: [Amazingly Ridiculous Sounding Celebration of Some Kind]? Strange hobbies you have up there in XXXXXX, Arkansas.

Then I refunded her the monies with a final parting shot:

Here's the money back, which you sent after the sales were voided. Again, we would never welcome the monies from such an unethical buyer. Of course with all the crazed emails you sent to us, we will be happy to forward them to anyone who is interested.

During this time, I was urging the other seller to contact Ebay or PayPal (which are sister companies) with both of our stories so that Pinkie could be dealt with effectively. The other seller couldn't figure out how to get through so I finally called and spoke to a PayPal representative. He reviewed both files and refunded the other seller the money so that she wouldn't have to continue to be, as he put it, 'harassed' by Pinkie.

I have yet to hear from Pinkie, who serves on the very prestigious committee overseeing the famous celebration in her small town, which seems to advocate a sexual act on a reptile.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Peace at last.

For any of us in any form of retail, we feel a certain wryness when we sing about peace during the holidays.

We also wonder how the concept of peace applies to our everyday lives. I recently gave a mortal business enemy a Christmas Card with the word "Peace" engraved in gilded script across the front of it, thinking "...if only!" I wonder if he got the message: I can only hope it works subliminally.

And now that it's the first day of the year, it's eerily quiet. All emails have stopped. All Ebay transactions and last minute running about is over.

In many ways, however, peace is our enemy. This year ushers in an economic recession at best, which may turn into a depression at worst. My primary business is being heavily affected, and many other businesses are suffering, too.

By nature, I am not a peaceful person. Oh, I believe in peace with my fellow man! But to sit about quietly? I need to be busy and I am frightened that this January will be a little too peaceful for my taste.

One interruption I don't welcome is the lawsuit I must enact against my former friend and tenant, who owes me a little over $4,000. But I am at peace knowing that the home she and her drugged-out son destroyed is completely fixed up and beautiful inside: It looks like a model home of what mobile homes should look like.

The home is completely drywalled, clean, neat, and has a new tenant who can't believe her good fortune. She has fixed up the home so beautifully that not only does it feel warm and cozy, but even *I* would happily move in immediately - no questions asked.

And unlike my former and ungrateful friend, this new tenant delights in the fact that she has a new hot water heater, two new airconditioners, and a washer and dryer. In fact, she has become rather entrepreneurial and is charging her fellow neighbors $5 a load if they wish to use her laundry facilities!

My little ebay business sped up drastically around Christmas time, but I fear it will be flatlining for the next couple of weeks. And my primary business is limping along fitfully.

However, this is the time to get back to writing my book, exercising, designing a belated Christmas gift for my mother, projects for my house, and perhaps polishing up my resume. A friend and I are currently working on creating a surprise for my son: A massive re-haul of his bedroom while he's away for a week.

What will you be doing to start out the New Year? And what are your feelings about it? Will 2008 be better or worse than 2007?

Happy New Year to every one of you (as long as you're one of the good guys). May this year surprise us with success and startle us with a profitable workload!